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What You Should Know About Adopting Your Stepchild

Posted on in Family Law

Naperville family law attorneyAccording to recent studies, nearly 40 percent of all marriages are remarriages for at least one of the partners. While, to many, numbers such as these represent a renewed hope in the institution of marriages—which may be an accurate perspective—these estimates also indicate that more and more individuals are bringing more with them into marriage. Children from previous relationships are an increasing part of marriages, and especially affect those marrying for the second or third time. Of course, there is not a “perfect” way to approach a stepchild situation, as the dynamics of each family will depend upon countless factors. However, for some stepparents, legally adopting their stepchildren may provide a level of needed security and legal parental responsibility.

Related Adoptions

Foster care adoptions, along with domestic and international infant adoptions are certainly important for the well-being of children in need, but represent just part of the adoption story in the United States. The Child Welfare Information Gateway, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, reports that adopting a stepchild is the most common form of adoption in the country today. Stepparent adoption is a type of related adoption in which a family member of the child looks to become the child’s legal parent. Compared to other forms, related adoptions are generally much simpler and no agency involvement in most cases.

Consent of Both Parents

Under Illinois law, “a reputable person of legal age” may initiate the proceedings for the adoption of a child. In a vast majority of stepparent adoption cases, the requirement of a home evaluation and other steps in the “normal” vetting process are waived due to the familiarity between the stepparent and the child. The successful adoption of a stepchild, however, will most often depend entirely upon the willingness of the child’s other parent to grant consent to the adoption. By virtue of your marriage, your spouse’s consent will not be in question, but the other parent must agree or the adoption will not take place. If the other parent cannot be found to either offer or deny consent, the court may allow the adoption to proceed at its discretion.

In the event the other parent refuses to consent, the only remaining recourse for a stepparent is to demonstrate that the other parent is unfit or should otherwise have his or her parental rights terminated. This is not an easy task, nor a situation which should be pursued without grave concern for the well-being of the child. The state of Illinois is extremely protective of a parent’s rights regarding his or her child and will not terminate them without appropriate justification.

Contact a Naperville Related Adoption Lawyer

For more information about the stepparent adoption process in Illinois, contact a knowledgeable DuPage County family law attorney. At Pesce Law Group, P.C., our experienced team is ready to help you take the necessary steps to create the best situation for your stepchild. Call our office today at 630-352-2240 to schedule a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/02/13/8-facts-about-love-and-marriage/

https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubpdfs/f_step.pdf

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=2098&ChapterID=59

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